Baltimore Poet Dyane Fancey Dies, Leaves Us with Perfect Poem

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Dyane Fancey Dies at 63
Poet Dyane Fancey

I didn’t know poet Dyane Fancey personally, but I can’t help but feel a kinship with her. Her CV included a stint as a painting student at Maryland Institute College of Art before an eventual master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. The master’s is from 1981, but her peculiar, multidisciplinary educational route would make just as much sense in Baltimore’s current cross-pollination-loving arts scene.

For a more complete life story, see the Baltimore Sun obituary. What I would like to talk about is a poem of Fancey’s that placed in City Paper‘s 2009 poetry contest. It’s called “Multitasking.” It begins like this:

Is how bizarre things end up in the freezer:
Car keys, wallet, medications that can be stored on the shelf.

Then comes a friendly admonition to “Be here, / Here, now” — advice we might just as easily give ourselves, if we wanted to hear it. The poems ends like this:

Who are you in a hurry to meet?
Don’t worry.
He’ll keep his appointment.

Mortality enters the poem as an afterthought, a hypothetical. But two lines later we realize it was really the last word. It was an interruption that became the poem’s abrupt ending. And yet Death, that notorious interrupter, who interrupted Dyane Fancey’s life and work at the age of 63 on April 13, is as good a reason as any not to worry, but instead simply to “Be here, / Here, now.” Thanks, Dyane.

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